Guidelines for Volunteers

12 Jun 2014 Alex Hastings    Last updated: 4 Nov 2014

This article outlines NICVA's policy on using volunteers in the organisation.

NICVA welcomes the participation of volunteers in its work, and will do its best to ensure that the time they spend with NICVA contributes to their personal development and fulfilment.

Types of NICVA volunteers and tasks

NICVA volunteers fall into three categories:

  1. The NICVA Executive Committee – the Executive Committee is the Board of Directors of NICVA and is composed entirely of people who serve in a voluntary capacity.
  2. Those from member organisations or elsewhere who serve on working groups and sub-committees.
  3. Those who become involved in particular projects of NICVA on a day to day basis and work in the main alongside or under the direction of NICVA's paid staff.

We cannot always take up volunteering offers, but we do welcome enquiries, and we outline below the type of projects in which volunteers could be involved.

Volunteers belonging to the third category above should be aware that NICVA is a charity offering support services to other voluntary organisations, and is not therefore involved in work of a personal caring or one to one relationship kind such as with children, disabled or older people or other at risk groups. Many organisations provide volunteering opportunities of this kind, and some organisations which will advise on voluntary work openings generally are available from the Human resources Manager.

Opportunities for voluntary work within NICVA will tend to be in the following areas:

  • Administration/ICT
  • Advice and information
  • Research and training
  • Promotion and marketing

NICVA will do its best to ensure that volunteers are satisfied in their work, and that all necessary support is available during the volunteer period. It will therefore ask all potential volunteers to complete an application form (available from Human Resources), may ask for referees to be nominated, and will inform a volunteer when engaged to which particular member of staff he/she is accountable and may refer for guidance and support. There are a number of points that you should consider when you become a volunteer, and to help you we have listed some of these below.

Time involved

Before making commitments, you should be reasonably certain that you can give whatever time is required. Sometimes this will be one day or morning, sometimes four or five days per week for a short defined period, or for an indefinite time-span.

Tasks involved

It is useful to be clear from the beginning why you are involved and what you can expect and what is expected of you. You can avoid possible misunderstandings later by discussing this with your line manager.


You should know to whom you are responsible. It will be to this person that you will refer for advice on any aspect of your work.               


It is vital that you do not repeat things you know or overhear as a result of your work. It is also important that if you are asked by the media for information on your work, you refer this to the Communications Officer in NICVA.

Regular Attendance

It will be possible to arrange your work according to the hours you wish to give, but reliability (including good time-keeping) will be expected. If for any reason you cannot attend when expected, give as much notice as possible.


Please let your line manager know if you are going to be on holiday so that alternative arrangements can be made during your absence.


Whilst working with NICVA, you will have the same insurance cover that is provided for members of staff.        


You will not receive pay or honoraria whilst working with NICVA. You will be entitled to expenses as set out below, but only when these are necessarily incurred during your working hours:

Travel: if you do not use your own car, you will be reimbursed all costs incurred in using public transport. If you use your own car, you will be paid a mileage allowance at the rate applying from time to time.  Rates are available from the Human resources Manager.

Subsistence: if your work requires absence from NICVA's office, you will be entitled to:

  • A lunch allowance at the rate notified by your line manager.
  • An allowance for dinner and overnight accommodation when appropriate.

Telephone: if your work involves use of your home telephone, you will receive an allowance for calls made on NICVA business.  This allowance is at a prescribed rate per minute.

Claims: you will be required to keep a detailed record of all expenses incurred, and to submit to your line manager at agreed intervals a claims form in respect of these expenses, accompanied by receipts.  You will appreciate that expenses cannot be paid unless this procedure is followed.

Social Security Benefits: volunteering should not affect any social security benefits to which you are entitled, but to be absolutely certain about your position, you should check with your local DHSS office before committing yourself to voluntary work with NICVA.  Leaflet JSAL 7 tells you about voluntary work and benefit entitlement.

Preparation and induction

For some projects there will be a preparation or induction course which is designed to help you begin voluntary work in the best way.

Support and training

All volunteers need some support and this may come in a variety of ways and from different people.  If you do however feel isolated, uncertain or unhappy, let your line manager know as soon as possible.  Training may also be provided and if there is a course that would help your work, it may be possible that NICVA can help with the cost of it.


In accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act a person is disabled if they have, or have had, “a physical or mental impairment which has, or has had, a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities.”

If volunteers consider themselves to have a disability relevant to the volunteer post or voluntary work they are undertaking they should make the Human Resources department aware so that specific arrangements, reasonable adjustments or adaptations can be made where possible, to assist the volunteer in completing the duties of the volunteer post.

Relationships between volunteers and paid staff

NICVA supports good practice in volunteer/paid staff relationships. The following sets out good practice guidelines for the guidance of volunteers, which NICVA fully subscribes to:

  1. Voluntary work should complement the work of paid staff, not substitute it.
  2. The employment or actions of volunteers should not threaten the livelihood of paid staff.
  3. Volunteers should not normally receive financial reward (other than out of pocket expenses).               
  4. Paid staff should be made aware of all proposed volunteer involvement. Any changes in the level or extent of voluntary work should be preceded by full consultation amongst interested parties.
  5. There should be recognised machinery for resolution of problems between paid staff and volunteers.
  6. In the event of industrial action in the workplace, volunteers should not be required to undertake more voluntary work than they would do in normal circumstances.
  7. Volunteers should not cross a picket line which objects to their attendance or presence, but should discuss the situation with the line manager who should in turn refer the matter to management/union negotiation.

Finishing voluntary work

If you find a permanent job or for some other reason wish to stop volunteering, NICVA will appreciate as much notice as possible of your intentions. If you do not find the particular project in which you are involved satisfactory, it may be possible to arrange alternatives. Do not hesitate to consult your line manager.

We share NICVA’s policies to assist organisations in drafting their own. However, our policies are relevant to NICVA and are not samples. They should not be replicated, but may be used for reference purposes, in conjunction with other guidance available. NICVA cannot accept any claims arising from error or misinterpretation.'s picture
by Alex Hastings

Human Resources Manager

[email protected]

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